Teens are a very different breed of humanity. Yes, we were all once there. Just like a caterpillar turns into a pupa before becoming a beautiful butterfly, teenagers undergo various physical and mental changes during adolescence. While hormonal changes send them on an emotional roller-coaster ride, physical growth leaves them confused about whose body they suddenly possess and the changes in their brains force them to react before they think.
Teenage is that time of our life when we grow from being dependent children who are cuddled and mollycoddled at home to independent young adults wanting their own “space”. The road to adulthood can be as tormenting for the teens as for their parents.
One important perspective to hold onto for all parents of teens is to remember this is metamorphosis and be patient. The imbalance between emotional immaturity and reasoning can make your teen respond in extreme ways that leave you hurt and angry as a parent. They either become rebellious and rude or cold and withdrawn. Parents also need to adapt their communication to stay connected.
For some time now I have been coaching a family where there has been a complete breakdown in communication between a teenager boy and his parents. Due to his “misdemeanours”, the parents no longer trust him and he is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the house — from misplaced items to chipped phones to the younger child’s tears. Parents repeat every instruction multiple times and he feels disrespected.
While on the one hand, he has developed an “I don’t care” attitude as anything he does is misconstrued. On the other hand, the parents find their child incommunicado. In such a case, both the child and parents need to take remedial measures else the situation will worsen, impacting the academic and personal growth of the child and the wellbeing of the entire family.
Firstly, don’t forget that this erratic behaviour is not what defines your child. It is just what he is at present projecting because of his metamorphosis. As parents, it may be difficult to handle this due to our personal daily pressures. However it is important that we, despite the child’s behaviour, continue to keep the communication channels open by being patient and understanding.
Start with forgiving him for his past mistakes (not necessarily condoning them) and enforce reasonable boundaries. Expressing trust and faith in your child is very important for him too. When you make your child understand you trust him, it will motivate him to work towards maintaining this trust.
As parents it is vital that we hold a positive vision of our child and express the same so that he works towards it. Lastly, the rebellious teen or confused young adult — your child — only needs your love, because parental love is the foundation of his being.
This is an interactive column on parenting skills and child behaviour. If you have a query, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
— Sunaina Vohra is a certified Youth and Family Life Coach at Athena Life Coaching in Dubai. For more information log on to www.athenalifecoaching.com or call (+971) 56-1399033.